After completing a deal to sign Tottenham striker Jermaine Defoe, Toronto FC is on the brink of pulling off yet another mammoth signing. Michael Bradley, arguably the best American player right now, is on the verge of joining the Canadian-based Major League Soccer club. Although the move will undoubtedly benefit the Reds, it could be detrimental to Bradley’s career.
Bradley has been playing overseas since 2006 when he became the youngest American player to be sold, as he joined SC Heerenveen in the Dutch Eredivisie. After bouncing around to Borussia Mönchengladbach, Aston Villa and Chievo, he joined AS Roma in July 2012. The Italian club proved to be a perfect fit for Bradley, as he seemed to come of age since joining the Roman giants.
Thriving at AS Roma, Bradley’s form was directly reflected in his performances with the United States Men’s National Team. He became the cog in the midfield that influenced every positive performance throughout the 2013 calendar year. When Bradley wasn’t in the squad due to rest or injury, the team was noticeably slower, weaker and less talented.
Unfortunately, AS Roma brought in Kevin Strootman from PSV in the summer and the Dutchman has pushed Bradley out of the starting lineup as the American was struggling with injuries. Now that he’s back and healthy, Bradley is struggling to find minutes necessary for him to showcase his talents. This has brought forth rumors of him seeking a loan move or permanent move away from Rome in the January window.
Enter Toronto FC. While the MLS club is on the rise, a move anywhere outside of the main European leagues would be a step-down for Bradley. The talented midfielder has proven himself to be one of the best Americans playing right now, and someone of his caliber and age (26) should be playing with the best in the world. Lowering himself to the MLS in the prime of his career will likely prevent him from reaching his peak and thus directly hurting the USMNT.
On the other hand, the move would allow Bradley to virtually get the 90 minutes he craves and could end up keeping him in the form necessary to lead the national team to Brazil later this year. One thing is for sure; his move from Serie A to the MLS is a major disappointment for US soccer in general.